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Cavaliers apparently resting LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love against Heat

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The Cavaliers appear set on a decision that will send shockwaves through the Eastern Conference.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

The Cavaliers will sit LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love tonight against the Heat in apparent choice of rest for the playoffs over continuing the fight for the No. 1 seed.

The Cavs are planning to start J.R. Smith, Richard Jefferson, Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert, and Deron Williams against the Heat, who need to win to keep pace with the Bulls for the eighth seed.

Cleveland’s lineup listed above was posted as part of the team’s media notes for tonight’s game and is subject to change.

This is huge for the Cavaliers, who are tied with the Celtics for the Eastern Conference’s best record. Cleveland has the tiebreaker, but this makes a loss to Miami – and falling to the No. 2 seed – far more likely. The Cavs lost twice to the Hawks over the weekend with LeBron (88 minutes), Irving (78 minutes) and Love (77 minutes) carrying huge loads. The Cavaliers just showed they could wallop the Celtics in Boston, so perhaps rest is more valuable than home-court advantage in that potential Eastern Conference finals matchup.

This is huge for the Celtics, who could gain the No. 1 seed. Boston closes by hosting the Nets and Bucks. The Celtics

This is huge for the Raptors, who are locked into the No. 2 or No. 3 seed. Though they present a more formidable threat to Cleveland, they’re still unlikely to beat the Cavs. Now, that matchup is more likely to come in the second round – and look like a step back for Toronto, which lost to the Cavaliers in last year’s conference finals.

This is huge for Wizards, who are guaranteed the No. 4 seed. If the Cavs fall to the second seed, Washington would avoid the defending champs until the conference finals.

This is huge for the Hawks, Bucks, Pacers and Bulls, who are all jockeying for seeds 5-8. If they can swing it, they’ll try harder to avoid No. 7 and a first-round matchup with Cleveland. It’s especially big for Miami, which is currently tied for eighth but doesn’t have the tiebreaker against Chicago.

Of course, the Cavaliers sitting their stars doesn’t guarantee the Heat a win tonight. They’ll have to earn it on the court.

That task just looks much easier now.

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.